Indian choreographer Shiamak Davar is one of the first dancers to bring contemporary Western and Jazz forms of dance to India. He is in fact known as the guru of contemporary dance in India.

Shaiamk Davar has choreographed many Bollywood celebrities, and actors such as Shahid Kapoor, Sushant Singh Rajput, Varun Dhawan, Darsheel Safary and others faced the camera only after a stint with Shiamak Davar Dance Company.

In an interaction with thestatesman.com, the talented choreographer talked about his ‘One Year Programme’, the current trends of dancing, how he took to dancing and who he grew up idolising.

Excerpts:

In your academy, people of all ages come. Do you believe ‘anybody can dance’?

The motto of my Dance Academy is ‘Have Feet. Will Dance’, which reiterates the fact that everyone can dance. I wanted to create a platform for people to come and express themselves through movement. People come with different purposes to dance classes, some to follow it as a hobby, some to de-stress and some to make it a career. When people join dance classes, they work together in a group and this sense of team spirit encourages them. They meet new people, interact with each other and share a common passion.

In times where kids are constantly on their mobile devices, dance is a great hobby where they learn, enjoy and work out at the same time. It is a positive outlet for their energies where they learn an art form, improve social communication and engage in dance based activities that help build focus, concentration, discipline and team spirit.

What is dance for you?

Working professionals in corporate lead a sedentary lifestyle. With dance, they find a stress buster where they can disconnect for their worries and just do something they love. It channels their mind into a positive space. It incorporates a form of physical activity into their lifestyle.

Dance is a celebration of life, it is such an integral part of our culture. And what better than doing something that gives you joy and also gets you fit! So I truly believe that there is a good that dance does, an impact that it has on the mind that reflects in the body and the spirit of everyone who experience it!

It is a great hobby for people of all ages where they learn, enjoy and work out at the same time. It is a stress buster where they can disconnect for their worries and just do something they love. People who dance observe a world of a difference in them. Dance not only gives them a free space to express themselves but also helps improve their motor movements and brings about positive behavioral changes.

Tell us about your first experience at dance.

My first love was singing and I used to act in a lot of musical productions. Dancing happened to me much later. I chanced upon dance classes at the Pineapple Studio in London where the teacher thought I had prior training. She was shocked to know I had never learnt ballet before that. I took the training forward and then decided to come back and start western jazz dance classes in India. I realised my mission was to spread joy through dance. Thirty years later, it’s a pleasure to watch the same people send their kids to my class who back in the day used to wonder what am I doing dancing and conducting classes!

You believe dance is more than just a co-curricular activity. Do you think it is lucrative enough to be taken up as a profession?

People now see dance as a viable career option. Not only dance, but any form of art or the performing arts have found longevity in terms of not only staying hobbies but being taken up as full time professions. Whether as a performer, dance instructor, choreographer or entrepreneur in the field of the performing arts; there is a plethora of opportunities. Being a first-hand witness through the transitional phase of western dance in India, the last thirty years have been a revolution of sorts. I’ve observed a positive and impactful change in people’s attitude towards dance as a career. The industry has opened up tremendously, arts and culture have become hugely popular and in effect people don’t fear making their passion a profession.

Tell us about your One Year Programme.

The One Year Dance Certification Program (OYP) is a holistic performing arts course that encompasses all aspects of dance. The focus of the program is my style of contemporary and I personally teach this program every day for three to four hours. Students get trained by renowned international faculty in styles like modern, jazz and contemporary. The core modules include Shiamak Style, Ballet, Contemporary and Jazz. They get introduced to over ten dance styles including Hip Hop, Ballroom, Folk, Bollywood Jazz, Broadway Jazz and more. Their learning goes beyond just dancing with modules in event management, backstage, production, sound, light, musicality, audio & video editing, grooming and nutrition. After the course, the students find a 360 degree change in their ability to perform. There are theoretical modules as well as a course on the Science of Dance that incorporates the understanding of the body which is essential for a dancer to know. On the job training is extremely important and students get to participate with my Dance Company in shows and films through the year.

What are the work opportunities that OYP can help with?

After graduating from this program, students get equipped to make dance their profession. It opens a plethora of opportunities of selected students to take up dance as a full time career.

  • Selected to be a part of my Dance Company.
  • Teach classes as a dance instructor.
  • Teach classes as a part of my Dance Education Program in schools.
  • Perform in musical productions in India or abroad.
  • To independently become professional dancers.

I’ve included modules in event management, backstage, production, sound, light, musicality, audio & video editing, and even grooming and nutrition. So a lot of students find their calling through dance and make a career in dance related fields as well.

What are the current dance trends in Bollywood?

Music and dance are ever evolving. Over the years, with each new genre of music, a new style of dance comes about. Bollywood has always molded itself to global dance trends with its own desi flavor. The current trend has an influence of Hip Hop music and dance follows suit. Though, it has really opened up to a whole lot of variety where we even get to see contemporary movement.

Any particular actor/dancer you haven’t worked with yet, and would like to collaborate? 

I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to work with a number of celebrated members of the fraternity. Though, I’ve grown up idolizing Helenji, and I would have loved to choreograph her